Active Shooter Expert Jeff Zisner Explains “Why” and “How” for CBS & VICE News

The Douglas High School shooting has truly rocked the nation as one of the worst school shootings behind Columbine and Sandy Hook. The coverage of the event and its repercussions has been essentially non-stop as people across the nation ask “why does this keep happening” and “what can we do to stop them from getting worse?”

AEGIS Security & Investigations’ own Jeff Zisner tackled the question of why in an interview with WDJT – Milwaukee, an affiliate of CBS News. The main message: work toward prevention.

“Schools can do things to prevent these things from happening, but it really involves early intervention,” Zisner said. “It[‘s] involving anti-bullying campaigns, being really alert and aware of what’s happening at schools and at home.”

For schools, there are several pre-incident indicators students, teachers, administrators and other campus staff can look for to identify a student in need of support before s/he takes makes a bad decision with an extremely horrific outcome. Bullying and other forms of abuse (e.g., domestic abuse) have been correlated to increased incidents of violence, including mass shootings. Identifying this issue — abiding by “see something, say something” — should be a part of your institutions active shooter training.

A recent study entitled Weapon carrying among victims of bullying, reported on the phenomena at a national level, exposing the reality that more than 200,000 high school students who were or are victims of bullying carried a weapon to school in the month prior to completing the survey.

Bullying has been linked to active shooter thoughts and actions. Columbine, the most notorious school shooting in modern history that prompted extreme responses in schools to take preventative action, has often had bullying cited for the shooters’ motives. Most recently, Freeman High School in Spokane, WA suffered an active shooter incident where the perpetrator openly admitted to the police that his lesson was to “teach them a lesson” (e.g. teachers and students there) about bullying,demonstrating this very real link.

Additionally, when violence is witnessed, a correlation with decreased school attendance and academic performance is found across the board. See another study from the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. These students are likely to engage in other risky and illegal behaviors (e.g., underage smoking, drug use, underage sexual activity) and attempt or consider suicide.

While Nikolas Cruz, the shooter who caused and confessed to Wednesday’s tragedy, is still under investigation and being questioned as to the rationale behind his actions (hopefully offering insight as to what drives people to such actions and can inform those of us in the security sector about what to look for further), it is clear that he was an outcast at the school. He had been expelled for disciplinary violations and had shown numerous signs of violent thoughts before taking this type of action. It is possible that the signs were there to anticipate such violent actions, and it once again reminds us to take preventative actions.

Later, he commented with VICE News that it is perfectly reasonable to enlist the help of those in the room, including students, when confronted with an armed threat. “If high school students are willing and able to fight, teachers shouldn’t stop them.”


Get active shooter training today.

AEGIS Security & Investigations conducts active shooter training programs designed for people at all levels within an organization, and they can be tailored to training large groups of staff that will work premier events. These trainings are the first step in understanding you and your organization’s capabilities and responses to an incident. Taking the steps to become better prepared in hostile situations cannot only save your life but help save the lives of those around you.

The civilian active shooter training provided by AEGIS is intended to build on “run, hide, fight,” the long-standing method of saving yourself in these events. Workshops run from an hour to several hours dependent on the needs of the organization and individuals. Our most highly sought after workplace violence training program is our one-hour plus add-on Run, Hide, Fight Live Fire Demo. Participants begin with a lecture and basic training on how to handle the situation and are then exposed to sample scenarios in which they practice those same skills. The effectiveness of this scenario can be viewed when on a past CBS segment here.

AEGIS Security & Investigations is a Los Angeles region company that is licensed and insured in the State of California to provide high-end armed and unarmed regular and temporary off-duty police officers, bodyguards, security officers, loss prevention agents, and event staff. Additionally, we offer services for private investigation, consultation, people tracing, and background investigation. Our trainings and workshops in the field of security licensure and counter-terrorism have been featured in news media and are renowned for their efficacy. For more information or to contact us, visit

By Chelsea Turner & Jeff Zisner